Monday, December 3, 2007

Paper Bag Drawings

I draw on what I can get my hands on, and one of the materials I've been able to get my hands on lately is paper bags.

In high school I was yelled at several times by a substitute art teacher for using inferior materials to create art. The old garbage in garbage out bit. But hey, if Drink and Drawl Social Club's Dave Johnson will work on paper bags, they can't be all bad.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Family Christmas Card 2006 (Drunken Gnomes)

Well seeing the idea that [the last post Seasons Eatings (or a zombie Christmas)] was rejected I feel that it is only appropriate to show the idea that was chosen by my mother to grace the Royal family Christmas card that year. As usual I made a lot of suggestions that were obscene and devoid of traditional Christmas cheer, leaving my mom no choice but to tell me what to draw. This year she wanted something less "Christmasy", whereas the cards of the last couple of years have all featured Santa.


The Swedish Santa


Why The Elves make the toys


Santa Stuck in a Chimney


Christmas Eric
For 2005 Mom wanted a Santa free card. At first she was interested in something styled after old fashioned Christmas cards that featured Father Time and the Baby New Year. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Father Time was rather like Santa Claus in appearance; I had always seen Father Time more as the Grim Reaper, or simply as a very old man on the verge of death. And so these were the sketches I drew.

New Year Sketch 01

New Years Sketch 02

Of course, these sketches were rejected by my mom, and so this idea was abandoned.

Instead she decided she wanted gnomes. I liked this idea because for the previous two years I was pushing for more Norse mythological Christmas cards, having read the mythology, I saw many Christmas traditions based in it I thought it would be good to use. However, my mom wasn’t as keen on having Thor grace our Christmas card, and said she didn’t want to have to explain what it meant. She always liked gnomes, and as they were an easy way of touching on our Swedish heritage, we went with Gnomes, the pointy hatted, big bearded, itty-bitty people of the Scandinavian mythology.

Gnomes and faeries 01
At first I did a couple of sketches with faeries because they are also part of the Scandinavian mythology, but I didn't go too far with that particular concept because the gnomes were just more fun to draw.

Gnomes and faeries 02

Gnome sketch 01
Happy Gnome!

Gnome sketch 02

Gnome Card Sketch 01

Gnome Card Sketch 02

Gnome Card Sketch 03

sketch with ink Overlay




Final Version

From Our Gnome to Yours
Have a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

The Royals

Monday, November 5, 2007

Seasons Eatings (or a zombie christmas)

Here is my personal Christmas card for the year 2006. This idea spawned from the drawings I was doing for the family Christmas card at the time. The primary concept that my mom suggested for the card for that year was Santa with all of our family in his bag, just our heads poking out.

Family card sketch 01

Now, with my being in a typically morbid mood I took things too literally and decided to portray Santa as a serial killer with all of our severed heads in his bag.

Family card sketch 02

This led me to do another drawing of the family as zombies about to devour Santa with the tag line “season’s eatings”, my personal favorite spoof on season’s greetings, if I do say so myself.

Naturally my mom rejected both concepts for our Christmas card (though my dad liked the season’s eatings idea despite the fact that he knew it would be a poor choice for the family card). So I changed everyone in the piece from my family to my best friend Pat and myself. I thought it was a fitting part two to the piece where he turned me into a zombie.


I essentially knew what I wanted from the get go with this sketch. There are a couple of versions of it, but they are all the same, just refinements on the caricatures of Pat and me, so I didn't feel any need to post them.

Photo Shop Out Lines


my favorite part of coloring this was clearly the blood, which came in several phases. I started by coloring the blood that was in the sketch which is blood on pat and I. it was just not bloody enough. Then I added blood coming out of Santa's wounds. It was just not bloody enough. Then I added the body coming out of Santa's mouth. Still it was just not bloody enough. Then I added light layer of blood to his end trails and that was bloody enough.


I think this was the first photo shop illustration where I shaded in this fashion and decided to add a layer and start painting the shadows solid black with the paint brush then decrease the opacity. This makes it easier to find any areas I’ve missed and results in a more complete shade for the piece overall. Plus it makes it simple, clean, and gives it a more cartoonish style, which was what I was going for. I then added a few highlights on Santa’s cheeks, the intestines, my hair, and the eyes to make them more round.

On a side note, in many of my works the lighting comes from the same direction (the right); I recall hearing that this is a tendency artists develop due to their dominant hand.

Though it makes sense to me, I could be totally wrong, but it’s certainly true in my works.

Emily Loen’s Calligraphy

I was unable find any typefaces that achieved the aesthetic I wanted for this card. I wanted the text to look like it belonged on a fancier Christmas card, you know, the kind of Christmas card where zombies aren’t eviscerating Santa Claus. So I asked my friend Emily who happens to practice calligraphy to help me and create the lettering. These are the ideas that she gave me. I imported all of them into the picture and played with all of them but the one on the lower left worked the best for my purposes.

Final Version

Here I added a couple of layers to the background to make the text pop. I added a layer of shading, a layer of a radial gradient of white coming from the center of the “season’s eatings”, and a gradient of yellow coming from the top of the piece. This all helped to draw attention to the text as well as push the background father from the characters and give the whole picture more depth, which I ended being very pleased with.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Best Friend the Zombie

This is a comic of my best friend Pat "Pathetic" Herrmann and me as zombies. Pat died this year (October 10th 2007) after a valiant fight with cancer. Not only was he was a giant influence in my life, but he also without a doubt inspired me as an artist and he helped me grow as a person. We met in Fall of 2003, in our first quarter at college; helped me transition from moving out of my parent’s home and being on my own, making it less painful, while teaching me a few things about life along the way. He was the definition of a best friend, he loved and cared about me so much and I loved and cared about him greatly as well. He told everybody about me and always had great things to say. Sometimes when I met acquaintances of Pat’s, they already knew all about me from everything he had told them; admittedly, not what I would have necessarily highlighted about myself, but it was always true. At times he understood me better then I understood myself. I miss him greatly, and I assure that this will be far from the last time you read his name or see his zombified visage.

Pat was obsessed with zombies and horror films and nothing would have made him happier then to be a zombie. So, I drew us as a pair of zombies! This concept is based off of his always saying that if he was a zombie, he would bite me first. I finished this piece sometime in early 2006, and I think it was one of the first pieces I completed with with my Wacom tablet. I think I started this piece some time in 2005. (Yeah some times these things take a while, but the Mona Lisa took 7 years, so get off my back.)

Sketch 01
the rough stuff
This is the first sketch that I have (or can remember); I think this idea like many others started as a sketch in my notebook at school. My favorite time to draw is when I’m supposed to be doing something else. I think I drew this soon after Pat had told me he had been diagnosed with cancer. The way I drew Pat is reminiscent of a sketch I did for his friend Jason (see below) who asked me to draw Pat as a zombie for a tattoo.

sketch done for Jason.
(this drawing may come up again in later blogs i recently rediscovered that i was reworking it in photo shop)

Sketch 02
As you can tell from sketch one to sketch two that some time has passed, my hair has grown out, and Pat’s gone bald (this was after Pat had started chemo). I also changed it so that he was less decayed. I figured if I was the first one to be bitten he would have done it quickly and not had much time to decay. I also changed the dialogue here because it didn't get the laugh I wanted with the last set. If you were wondering, yes, that is a Lance Armstrong Live Strong cancer bracelet that Pat is wearing. I also sported one at the time but it's on the hand out of frame. On a side note, I always draw Pat with a black T-shirt that had the word “Fuck” scrawled across it. It was his favorite word, and matched his larger than life persona to a t. Or, a t-shirt, in this case. It’s a design both Pat and I got a laugh out of, and considered having made into a real shirt.

out lines

Here it is with color I also added more of Pat's tattoos after visiting him and getting some reference pictures. I’m lucky I drew this when I did and at the angle I did otherwise I would have to have drawn way more little tattoos. Though I did take the easy way out having traced a few.

Shading Technique
I decided to post this piece mainly because it made Pat look like the Fantastic 4’s Silver Surfer, which I thought was hilarious. I shaded this picture this way because I wanted to create a cartoon tone value as well a multi tone. I colored all the tones that I wanted for the picture on a separate layer in grey tones and then I messed with the different modes for the layers. Pat's shade layer mode is “Vivid Light” and mine is “Overlay”, which gave me the fine tone values.

Here is the final version. I was very happy with how it came out. Pat thought it was "rad". He printed it on some iron on paper and put it on the back of a sweatshirt that he wore pretty often.

So now he can be a zombie forever.

Global Conquest (or a thank you card)

So after I graduated I received many a generous gifts from family as well as family friends, and decided to show my appreciation for such great gifts with a magnificent card. I liked the idea of showing people what I could do with my new college education, and I was going to do it with global conquest, Napoleonic style. So I dressed in my best 18th century French regalia and mustered my army of faceless drones, and set out in the world to conquer.

Sketch 01

Here is the first sketch I did of the idea where my mom wanted me to quickly give her a thank you card for one of her aids that gave me a gift certificate to Costco. The idea was to show me as a world conqueror using said Costco gift certificate to purchase weapon grade plutonium (As my “to do list” shows). This was a quick idea that I wanted to develop further with the general thank you card.

Sketch 02

Trying to perfect my look as a global dictator; the right costume can be the difference between total global domination and partial global domination.

Sketch 03

More sketches perfecting my look. I based some of my ideas for these sketches off of Guy Davis's "The Marquis: Danse Macabre", using the costumes from this great graphic novel as an example for my own attire.

Sketch 04

Having picked a general look for me I moved on to designing the layout for the card.

Sketch 05

Sketches for my minions. I wanted something that was easy enough to draw and was generic enough that I could replicate a number of times without it looking like I did so. It was just the general issue costume that made the look, so I hid the face and the overall effect wasn’t damaged. The appearance of my minions was inspired by Mike Mignola’s Hellboy (hence the Lobster Johnson sketch in the top left) , Guy Davis’ B.P.R.D. (with the look of the flak jackets) , and J Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl (with my minion’s generic look based off of the Hammer Soldiers - faceless Nazi troops).

Sketch 06

Thought of adding a gas mask to them to make them look more like World War I soldiers, however, could not pick a design that I liked.

Sketch 07

Final sketch for me

Sketch 08

final sketch for faceless minions

And here’s how it all came together.

I did the illustration all in Photo shop inking and coloring it. For the horde of soldiers in the back I created one row of soldiers and duplicated them several times, not shading them to give no direction to the light, and blurring them so as nothing stood out and to produce the illusion of distance.

The writing in the "to do list" was done by Emily Loen. I created the piece of paper in Photo Shop.